Remember That Promise About Increased Government Transparency?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 21, 2010


It has officially gone by the wayside:

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did.

Transparency and openness were so important to the new president that on his first full day in office, he dispatched a much-publicized memo saying: “All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”

One of the exemptions allowed to deny Freedom of Information requests has been used by the Obama administration 70,779 times in its first year; the same exemption was used 47,395 times in Bush’s final budget year.

An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies’ handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush.

Andrew Malcolm is about the only serious journalist working these days to point out just how vast the difference is between rhetoric and reality when it comes to the Obama Administration’s promises on government transparency. Too bad there aren’t more like him; given the fact that the Obama Administration is significantly less transparent than was the Bush Administration, it stands to reason that the Obama Administration ought to be getting more grief than did the Bush Administration on transparency issues.

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